Best of the Year 2012: Martin Conaghan
Yes, unbelievably it is that time of year again already – December commences, Christmas and the end of the year loom and we kick off our now traditional series of annual guest posts as we ask various writers, editors, artists and others to share their favourite comics, books and other works with us. As is now customary here on the blog we’ll be running a guest Best of the Year from different folk each day through the month, before the blog crew post their own choices from the last twelve months. Of course many run best of the year type selections around this season, but I like to think with our series of multiple guest posts we get exposed to a more diverse set of tastes and choices (and as a bonus we also get to catch up with some of our creators and what work they’ve had out this year and what’s coming up next).
And when I say we I include myself and the other blog gang members, because frequently each year someone flags up a work we haven’t come across, or know only by name but haven’t read, and isn’t that one of the reasons for doing these kinds of posts, to hopefully flag up interesting new work, personally recommended? I’ve been directed to several works I’d have missed otherwise through some of our guest posts, and I hope many of you have picked up on some good reading recommendations through them too (you can click on previous years in the category menu on the right if you want to peruse them).
Anyway, let this year’s Best of the Year guest posts commence – 2012’s selection kicks off with the man who was first back with his choices, the (now BAFTA winning, no less!) Martin Conaghan:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Martin: The best comic series of the year for me continues to be The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross for Vertigo. It’s original, unusual, clever and expertly-paced. It’s what Vertigo was set up to do; avant-garde, non-superhero, cerebral and always entertaining.
I started reading Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ ‘Saga‘ via Image’s digital downloads store too – I love anything Vaughn produces, and this one hasn’t disappointed – again, it’s a million miles from the standard superhero comics fare and much more of a space opera with barrel-loads of vivid characters and a thoroughly engaging story.
Lastly, I picked up ‘Hector Umbra‘ from Blank Slate Books, which was one of the best graphic novels of the year for me – an atypical Euro-comic with a beautifully loose and free style of art and storytelling from Uli Oesterle, and a thoroughly entertaining story to boot.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last > twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Martin: I read Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′ recently – being a bit of a JFK nut – and thoroughly enjoyed it, but then, I tend to pick up anything King produces. It’s less about the whole JFK conspiracy, and more about what life was like in the 1950s, but it’s still a great ride and typical King fare.
I also picked up a bunch of Algernon Blackwood stories, including The Willows and the John Silence trilogy, which were among the inspirations for HP Lovecraft’s work – they’re classic supernatural fiction from the pre- and post-war era.
Lastly, I read the biography of Steve Jobs, which, while not quite science-fiction, certainly provided some amazing insights into the technology we all take for granted in our everyday lives (and which many of us are using to read comics on now).
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Martin: ‘Fringe’ continues to be top of my viewing list every week (when it’s on). It’s nearing the end of it’s fifth and final season now, and, for me, it’s one of the best science-fiction shows ever made – partly because it has successfully reinvented itself every year and continues to transform with every new episode. Also, Walter Bishop is one of the best mad scientists ever committed to screen.
I’m also continuing to enjoy ‘Breaking Bad’ as it enters it’s final season – which is something of a hidden gem (you need to pick up the DVD’s if you haven’t already). It ranks as one of the best television shows ever (and I’m including The Wire, Sopranos and The West Wing in that).
Lastly, I’ve also been keeping up with Treme, David Simon’s follow-up to The Wire, all about the aftermath of Hurricaine Katrina and the musicians in New Orleans trying to rebuild their homes and lives after the disaster.
FPI: How did 2012 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Martin: It’s been a fantastic year for me. I launched issue #1 of Overload, my self-published black and white anthology title, which featured a story by Judge Dredd writer Gordon Rennie concerning former UK prime ministers who have risen from the grave as zombies and a brilliant Maggie Thatcher zombie cover by Graeme Neil Reid.
Will Pickering and I also produced a US edition of Burke & Hare with a new cover by Rian Hughes for Tranzfusion publishing, and I produced a trio of short stories for Dark Horse Presents with the quite brilliant Jimmy Broxton. It’s long been an ambition of mine to be published in DHP, so it was a great thrill to receive my comp copies in the post and find myself featuring alongside people like Mike Mignola and Geoff Darrow.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2013?
Martin: I’m about to release two new comics from The Copydesk. One is a short biographical comic called ‘Reflections’ with loads of little stories about my childhood, and the other is a reprint of a black and white sci-fi story called The Brutalizers that I did for Negative Burn in the 1990s. It’s been remastered, coloured and re-lettered, with a cover by Frank Quitely. I guess it’s kind of like a “redux” version of the original – vastly improved, with art by David Braysher, Mike Perkins, Alex Ronald and some incredible colouring by South Africa-based Gat Melvin. I think people will love it – the only way I can describe it is Mad Max meets The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
(a page from Reflections by and (c) Martin Conaghan and Simon Mackie)
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Martin: If there’s one artist you should be looking out for, it’s Eoin Coveney – he’s an Irish illustrator with a very distinctive, almost Moebus style. Every time I see something new from him, he gets better and better. It’s only a matter of time before he hits the Big Two.
(Dredd by Eoin Coveney, borrowed from his online portfolio on his site, art (c) Eoin, Dredd (c) Rebellion)